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A Conversation with Emmett Dulaney about the State of IT Certification in 2010

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Tim Warner from Pearson IT Certification had the opportunity to chat with Emmett Dulaney, author and professor of e-based courses (e-business, e-commerce) at Anderson University, to discuss current trends in the IT certification field and suggestions for IT certification candidates.
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Emmett Dulaney is a Pearson author and a professor of e-based courses (e-business, e-commerce) at Anderson University. Emmett is also the author of a number of books on certification and operating systems. The certification columnist for CertCities, he has held a number of certifications from almost every vendor in the industry and has been involved in the startup of several technology companies.

Tim Warner: In your experience, what would you say are the most in-demand IT certifications for 2010 and moving into 2011?

Emmett Dulaney: I think you'll see an increase in certifications around security as it becomes even more imperative to have administrators who can stay on top of the latest challenges. Of course, Windows 7 certifications will become somewhat popular and there will always be a need for those who truly can implement enterprise solutions—which will bode well for Cisco.

Tim Warner: Many of my students who are new to IT almost universally gravitate toward the CompTIA A+ and Network+ titles. A lot of these students claim they feel the CompTIA exams are easier than, say, the Microsoft or Cisco exams. How much truth is there to these assertions? Following on the heels of the previous question, what cert(s) would you recommend, say, for a person who is transitioning into IT from another field who currently has nothing but some interest and aptitude for computers and networking?

Emmett Dulaney: There will always be a need for entry-level certifications such as those offered by CompTIA. They are indeed easier than those that are vendor-specific and intended to test upper-level knowledge, but that is by intent. Vendor-neutral, entry-level certifications establish a base and aren't intended to do anything beyond that.

Tim Warner: Please share your thoughts regarding the following statement: "IT certification success is as much about critical thinking and test-taking skills as it is about knowing the relevant subject matter."

Emmett Dulaney: There are a lot of good generic study materials out there that can help you become better at taking exams. An out-of-print book by John Garland called Muscling the Multiple Choice can still be found online and in some libraries and is a wonderful book for increasing your test-taking abilities.

Tim Warner: Not everyone can afford (monetarily or in terms of time) to undertake instructor-led training for their test prep. How can IT certification candidates get the most bang for their buck out of self-study resources such as books, practice exams, or computer-based training?

Emmett Dulaney: Build a lab. If you really want to get experience, buy some old equipment and set up a lab in your home that you can configure/reconfigure over and over and over again. Don't be afraid to wipe disks, reinstall, and go crazy. It is only through experiential experience that you get the skills you need.

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